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Additions may be rivals

July 29, 2014
By Cory Giger (cgiger@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

CHICAGO - The addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten were a major focus at Monday's conference media days, and the Penn State camp believes those teams will be good rivals for years to come.

The Nittany Lions will get to see Rutgers early this season as they travel there for a night game in week three.

"Whenever we're taking recruits out of New Jersey every year and they're taking recruits out of Pennsylvania, it's going to be a hot topic," linebacker Mike Hull said of the importance of the head-to-head matchups against Rutgers.

Maryland visits Penn State on Nov. 1, resuming a series that dates back to 1917. The Lions and Rutgers played for the first time the following year.

The rivalry issue, however, is at least debatable since neither Rutgers nor Maryland has had any success against Penn State. The Lions have gone 22-2 against the Scarlet Knights and 35-1-1 against the Terps.

Can there be a rivalry if one side is always beating the other?

"Yeah, definitely, as long as it's competitive, which I'm sure it will be," Hull said.

James Franklin called the two new additions "awesome for the conference."

"Having a presence in the Washington D.C. corridor is so important," said Franklin, who was an assistant at Maryland from 2000-04. "Having a presence in the New Jersey, New York area is very, very important. I think they've got great football coaches and tremendous fan bases."

Penn State has always recruited well in Rutgers and Maryland territory, and coaches from those teams were asked Monday if they're worried about PSU taking more players from their backyards.

"The Big Ten schools, whether it's our neighbor to the west, our neighbor to the south or any other traditional programs in the Big Ten, have always recruited New Jersey," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "And that hasn't changed. And what's important to me is that we find the right players that are right for Rutgers."

Penn State has had enormous success over the years recruiting players in and around Maryland. Terps coach Randy Edsall, like Flood, said recruiting comes down to the player and school being a good fit for one another.

"There's always a philosophy that you have a profile that you're going to recruit, and a lot of times, some of those guys that maybe go elsewhere don't fit the profile that you're looking for," Edsall said. "And we know that we're in an area where there's going to be a lot of schools come in and recruit where we're at."

Franklin the veteran

Franklin acknowledged that he had "major concern" taking the Penn State job knowing that he wouldn't know who his bosses would be after the departures of president Rodney Erickson and AD Dave Joyner.

Those two have been replaced by Eric Barron and Sandy Barbour, respectively, so now Franklin said he's a veteran at PSU despite being there only seven months.

"Now we're going to have to develop the relationships because for us to have the type of success that we want to have to be on the same page," Franklin said of his new bosses.

Meyer on LJ

Penn State lost one of its best recruiters when defensive line coach Larry Johnson left for a job at Ohio State. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called Johnson a "top-shelf coach."

"(He's) a guy that has great respect, very good recruiter, a very good coach, the players love him already," Meyer added. "There's an incredible trust and esprit de corps in the D-line room right now. He walked into a good situation. He's got a bunch of good young - a good mix of young and old players in that room."

News and notes

n Penn State will leave for Ireland on Tuesday, Aug. 26 and arrive on that Wednesday. Franklin said he will keep the players awake for the entire day their first day in Ireland to get them accustomed to the time difference (Dublin is five hours ahead of EST).

n WR DeAndre Thompkins had been the fastest player on the team, but Franklin said that title now belongs to DB Grant Haley.

n Franklin talked about trying to recruit more players out of Canada and then joked about having a slogan started that says "Dominate Canada," which drew some laughs.

n Nine players on the team have already graduated.

n The Lions recently held an open tryout and had 175 hopeful players attend.

n Franklin said the players who have stepped up as leaders so far include QB Christian Hackenberg, LB Mike Hull, G Miles Dieffenbach and K Sam Ficken.

n The PSU players - Hull, Ficken and RB Bill Belton - arrived Monday for their Big Ten media days appearance. Franklin said next year he will bring the players in a day early so they can enjoy Chicago.

 
 
 

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